Things We Like
Grip It and Rip It: Usually, the more realistic a sports game gets, the less fun it becomes to play. Not the case in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010. Every year, the game offers more options for shot-making and yet an amateur can still pick up the controller for the first time and crush a drive 300 yards down the fairway. Pull back and follow through on the toggle stick or crank out drives with the three-click method. Either way, Tiger mixes realism with ease of playability better than any other sports title.
Puttsing Around: The biggest addition to gameplay is the Precision Putting functionality introduced on the greens. You line up your putt and a meter appears with a power recommendation for the line. It's not just a matter of hitting the putt within that area, the meter also gauges whether you are pulling back and following through on a straight line. It's a far more realistic feel on the greens that is more in line with the toggle swings on the fairways. (Don't worry purists, you can always resort to the original putting system.)
Playing Makes Perfect: You'll spend most of your time hacking away in Career Mode -- just be careful, every shot counts. The more accurate you are during tourney play, the more you'll bump up your skills. Instead of assigning points to elements of your game you'd like to improve, you dynamically develop your driving, putting and mid-range game after each round by hitting accurate shots. Players of last year's version will be familiar with this setup. Be patient, you'll start your career having trouble clearing the women's tees, but by your third Sunday, you'll be challenging the pros.
And We're Live: The biggest improvements to this year's build show up online. Play the Pros let's you tee it up against live results from that weekend's tournament. If you've always wondered why there are so many big numbers going up at the U.S. Open, give it a virtual shot and see if you can keep up. The addition of real-time weather conditions adds to the realism - and, in the case of this year's Open, deluge of rainstorms.
Mini-Games: Face it, the pace of golf isn't for everyone -- especially gamers. Tiger 2010 gives you different options for swinging the clubs around with a vast array of mini-games. Skins, Bingo Bango Bongo, Target Practice, there are a dozen other ways to test out your bag of clubs without having to devote an hour to 18 holes.
Put on Your Game Face: We don't think there's another game on the market that allows you to customize your character as thoroughly as Tiger 2010. You can eat up an entire weekend adjusting the shade of your golfer's freckles. You can import your own image either via a camera or by uploading on the Web (for XBOX Live).
Check out the new features in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 ...
Things We'd Change
Anger Management: The game of golf is frustrating enough to tick off Mr. Rogers, and the temper tantrums in Tiger have always been a nice comedic touch. Now we want an update. The angry reactions haven't evolved over the years. We're still getting the same traditional tossed clubs and head-bashing. Would it hurt to add the occasional supper freak out? Maybe crashing a golf cart into a water hazard after a triple-bogey or something?
Glitchy Graphics: Bare with us on the nitpicking, because this really is a terric game. The crowd shots occasionally sync everyone's movements (if one fan lifts his arm to shield from the sun, the rest of the group acts likewise). Also, a few of the pros don't look very much like themselves. Still, these are minor complaints, because the rest of the game looks fantastic. In terms of fairways, roughs, and greens, the game is about as real as it gets, with individual blades of grass swaying in the wind and putting surfaces developing dimples during heavy rain fall.
Same Old, Same Old: While we love this title, we still feel like there could be bigger shake-ups between builds. EA knows that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just beware that if you're expecting an entirely remade Tiger game, you might want to hold off on picking up 2010. The online additions breathe new life into the franchise, but the rest of the title plays out very much like Tiger 09.
Just like Tiger is always going to be near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, his video games will continue to set the standard for golfing sims. Tiger 10 is no different and is certainly a title worth picking up for the avid armchair golfer.
-- Reviewed by Paul Ulane